SEC Wants Clearer Guidelines After Elon Musk’s Tweets

Elon Musk is known for many things, including founding Paypal and serving as the CEO of Tesla Motors. In addition to making cars, building spaceships, and investing in a wide variety of technology start ups, Musk is also known for his prolific tweeting. Unfortunately, not everyone likes Musk’s use of the social media platform Twitter, and his tweets have not only created controversy, but they have also led to legal troubles with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Now, the SEC wants clearer guidelines how social media usage can violate federal law and lead to commercial litigation.

Musk’s trouble with the SEC goes back to August 2018 when the CEO tweeted he was going to take Tesla private. This caused Tesla’s stock price to skyrocket, as eager investors wanted to purchase stock before the buyback; however, the SEC found Musk’s statement “lacked an adequate basis in fact” and filed a lawsuit against him for violating federal securities law. Just months later, Musk got in trouble again when tweeting about the company’s commitment to produce a certain number of cars in 2019.

Determining whether or not an individual’s social media use has violated securities laws is often not black and white. Current regulations don’t mention social media use, which has prompted the SEC Commissioners to ask for new guidelines. SEC Commissioner Robert Jackson said, “Without prejudging a particular matter, it might be time for us to come forward and say, here are some principles of this game.”

Nearly everyone uses some type of social media platform and company executives are no exception. While executives may want to share company information on social media, they still have a responsibility to investors and shareholders. Executives are allowed to share information on social media, but investors must be informed on what social media channel will be used to push out market sensitive information.

Even though the SEC has yet to adopt specific guidelines for social media use, the agency is committed to pursuing securities violations, which include violations that occur on social media. And, it’s important to note, social media usage can be a huge source of liability for a business well beyond securities violations.

Houston Commercial Litigation Attorneys

If you are facing any type of litigation arising from your social media use or want to pursue a claim against another party for their use of social media, do not wait to contact Feldman & Feldman. We can review your case and explain your legal options.

A Multimillion Dollar Website and Breach of Contract

Almost every business needs a website. For some businesses, website functionality is crucial to generating revenue; and, most types of marketing (websites included) are expensive endeavors. But what if you paid $32 million for a website that didn’t meet your expectations? That’s exactly what happened to car rental giant Hertz, which is suing its former marketing company, Accenture LLP, for breach of contract.

Hertz engaged Accenture to create a new website and mobile applications. From 2016 to 2018, Hertz paid Accenture over $32 million, but Hertz claims it did not get the website and mobile apps it wanted. According to the lawsuit, Accenture did not develop medium sized displays for the new website and mobile apps. While desktop and mobile sized displays were created, tablet-sized displays were not. Hertz requested the website and apps be “responsive” meaning they would automatically resize for the device on which they are accessed, but the Accenture “demanded hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional fees to deliver the promised medium-sized layout.”

Hertz also claims Accenture failed to deliver website coding that was secure, which could make the website vulnerable to hackers. Possibly the largest problem with the website is that it wasn’t extensible, meaning it couldn’t be expanded to be used for Hertz’s global brand. Hertz asserts the decision to disregard extensibility was deliberate and made without Hertz’s knowledge or consent. A website that’s not extensible leaves Hertz needing to spend additional marketing dollars developing websites and apps for global use.

What may seem like a simple breach of contract dispute on the surface can actually become much more complex in the digital age. Websites and mobile apps are incredibly complicated. When companies enter into a contract that does not discuss the specifics of every aspect of the project, disputes can easily arise between the parties as to what is included in the scope of work. Digital assets like websites are presenting unique legal challenges. When contracts involving websites are not thoroughly drafted, there’s more than enough room for disputes.

Houston Contract Attorneys

At Feldman & Feldman, our Houston contract attorneys understand the complexities of drafting contracts involving websites. We also regularly represent individuals and business owners in breach of contract disputes involving intangible marketing materials. If you are involved in a breach of contract dispute, contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our dedicated attorneys.

Houston Law Firm Files Lawsuit Over Faulty Printer: Here’s What You Need To Know About Warranties

Picture this: you have a really important print job, but as you stand in front of your office printer it starts making strange noises. Before you know it, the printer is jammed and your print job isn’t happening anytime soon. This is a common scenario for anyone that works in an office, which can become incredibly frustrating, particularly if the printer is brand new and fails to operate properly at all. This was the case for a local Houston law firm who became so fed up with printer problems that they filed a lawsuit against HP, Inc. alleging breach of contract, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and breach of express warranty. While it’s unclear how this office drama will play out, it does serve as an important reminder to business owners about warranties.

According to the Houston law firm that bought an HP Color Laser Jet printer, the five-year warranty it purchased included promised in-person repairs, parts, and service “at your door the very same business day.” The firm claims the printer had problems since it was delivered, including constant paper jams and print jobs that would take hours. The firm tried to troubleshoot the issue with HP’s customer service call centers, but were unable to resolve the issue. The final straw broke when the firm needed several important printing jobs done, but the printer could only print one page every three to four minutes. Despite the promise in the warranty to send an on-site technician, the firm claims HP did not honor this promise and instead refused.

Like this Houston law firm, many businesses rely on technology and/or machinery to operate. In certain industries, when a business doesn’t have certain machines operational, everything comes to a complete stop, making warranties incredibly important. A warranty is a contract between two parties, so both are legally bound to uphold their end of the deal. When a breach of contract occurs – whether it is related to a warranty or not – businesses have the right to pursue legal action against the breaching party.

Houston Breach of Warranty Lawyers

The Houston breach of warranty lawyers at Feldman & Feldman understand how important warranties and contracts are to your business. That’s why we aggressively fight for clients who have faced financial consequences as the result of a breach of contract. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our experience trial attorneys.

New Apartments Fighting Condo Owners Associations

Houston is an unusual city for many reasons, but one of the most visibly apparent reasons is that there are no zoning requirements. This means that grocery stores can go up next to houses, but it also places a higher burden on homeowners and condo owners associations. Because there are no zoning requirements, these organizations are often the only thing standing in between a new development and residents. This is the case for the condominium owners association at the Cosmopolitan apartment complex, which is fighting the development of a 39-story building.

The Dinerstein Cos. is a development company in the process of building a 39-story luxury apartment building. The project, called Arise Post Oak, has been embroiled in litigation since its inception. When the project was first proposed, residents next door at the Cosmopolitan apartments objected to the building. Residents claimed the new building would be too high and wanted the building’s size to be cut in half.

The dispute between the condo association at the Cosmopolitan and Dinerstein reached a fever pitch in 2016 when Dinerstein asked a judge to declare its rights to develop the land. The condo association was claiming the building would be a nuisance. Under Texas law, both public and private entities can file a nuisance lawsuit if another building, company, or individual is interfering with their right to the use of and enjoyment of their property. The lawsuit has gone through a number of appeals and remains pending.

Business and condo owners associations can learn from the lawsuit that this type of litigation is not only extremely common in Houston, but is also incredibly complex. These legal battles can draw out for years and end up being extremely costly for both sides. Whenever these types of disputes arise, only experienced legal representation can help resolve matters quickly and efficiently.

Houston Commercial Litigation Lawyers

At Feldman & Feldman, we understand the complexities of commercial litigation. Our attorneys work closely with clients to understand their needs and protect their rights. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced Houston commercial litigation lawyers to see how we can help.

Neiman Marcus Facing Creditors In Court

The cost of litigation is a huge challenge for businesses of all sizes. Large companies can threaten litigation in an effort to force opposing parties to drop claims against them. This is not only an extremely unfair practice, but it is against Texas law. Retailer Neiman Marcus has been accused by creditors of filing frivolous lawsuits in an attempt to stifle legitimate claims made by creditors.

Neiman Marcus is over five billion dollars in debt, which has created a contentious fight between the retailer and its creditors, specifically Marble Ridge Capital. Creditors have accused Neiman Marcus of moving around its assets to protect them from creditors. Marble Ridge Capital filed a lawsuit against the company, which in turn filed a countersuit claiming Marble Ridge was spreading harmful and incorrect information about the company. Now, both companies are waiting for a judge to decide whether or not Neiman Marcus’s countersuit can be dismissed under Anti-SLAPP laws.

Anti-SLAPP laws are meant to protect individuals and companies from frivolous lawsuits. What makes the lawsuits against Neiman Marcus and Marble Ridge Capital interesting is that their outcome could set a precedent for future creditors and debtors. If debtors are allowed to bully their creditors by filing additional lawsuits, it could give debtors an unfair advantage.

Getting Help With Anti-SLAPP Lawsuits

Anti-SLAPP lawsuits exist to ensure individuals and companies with more resources don’t trample over the rights of others. No one should be able to use his or her power and influence to deny someone else’s day in court. At Feldman & Feldman, our attorneys are experienced at helping individuals and businesses fight against larger adversaries. We use Texas Anti-SLAPP laws to dismiss frivolous lawsuits that were only filed to intimidate our clients.

If you or your business needs help with a legal matter, do not wait to contact one of our experienced lawyers today. We have extensive experience in a wide array of litigation matters, and we can protect your interests. Our attorneys can craft a personalized and efficient strategy to obtain a successful resolution for your case. Call us today to schedule a consultation.